An Unfamiliar Song

A song sparrow sings while perched on a cattail at South Quigley Lake in Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Washington

One of the nice features of bird guides on mobile devices, compared to their traditional paper counterparts, is the ability to only show birds you might see in a state (apart from the occasional rarity that has strayed far from its normal course). I used this feature when researching the places we considered moving, to see how many of the birds will be new to me and how many I’m going to have to say goodbye to. Some will at once be familiar and unfamiliar, such as this song sparrow singing from the cattails at Ridgefield’s South Quigley Lake, as while the ubiquitous sparrow does live in Arizona it has a different look from the those of the Pacific Northwest.

This is part of the attraction of the desert for us, it’s a big change from what we are used to, and my hunch is I’ll have fun exploring the landscapes and wildlife there for many years to come. We’ll see if time proves me correct, but I’m optimistic. I am going to miss in particular the auto tour at Ridgefield though, this is by far the place I’ve spent the most time in the Northwest, as well as the wetlands in general.

The Wayward Feather

A song sparrow eats seeds while standing on a floating branch

This song sparrow was working the same bit of floating branches as this red-winged blackbird but with a different technique. While the blackbird hunted for food by moving debris about with her beak, the sparrow was using its feet to do the same. Curiously it had one tail feather askew but it didn’t seem to be impeding it in any way that I could see. I saw the same bird on another day with its downward-facing feather but I suspect it fell off in short order as days later I saw a sparrow working the branches with all feathers cooperating.

Seed Bill